On September 14 the Lloyd American Legion Post 193 held a special ceremony to dedicate their main meeting room to the late Benjamin E. Bragg Sr. [1924-2018].
Legion Commander Chris Froland welcomed everyone, noting that 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the American Legion. The organization was formed on March 15, 1919 in Paris, France by a thousand officers and men of the American Expeditionary Forces and was chartered later that year by the United States Congress on September 16, 1919.
The Boy Scouts led in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a blessing by Fr. John Lynch, of St. Augustine Parish.
“Thank you brothers and sisters for this great nation that is filled with gratitude for God’s gift of this country to us that allows us to be free in so many ways, in all ways that are human,” he said. “We celebrate the great history of the American Legion and all it represents for the many years and many wars we have endured.”
Legion Auxiliary President Christine Giangrasso said many years ago a group of women formed the Ladies Auxiliary as a way to be of service to others in need.
“They envisioned the formation of an organization that could render service to others, an organization to give a hand of love and comfort to a wife, the mother of an orphan or a deceased veteran, or to those in sickness; those valiant women with the true spirit of pioneers surged forward to great heights and their dreams became a reality, the American Legion Auxiliary...We do whatever is possible to keep this Post moving forward and keep our men supported.”
Legionnaire Charley Busick said Bragg grew up during the Great Depression, served in the European theater during WW II and returned home to marry his high school sweetheart Rosalie Rizzo, “the love of his life” on September 8, 1946. The couple started a successful electrical contracting business and had four children, numerous grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. She predeceased him in 2004.
Bragg was a Town Board member for 9 years, served on the school board for 5 years, was a volunteer fireman and trustee of the Lloyd Cemetery. He was a founder of the Highland Little League as well as the Legion, where he was a member for 71 years, serving several times as Post Commander and as Post Chaplain.
Giangrasso announced the dedication of the hall to Ben Bragg and unveiled a framed picture and plaque of him in his honor. She led in the singing of “God Bless America,” Bragg’s favorite song. She also honored the Ladies Auxiliary for their fundraising efforts that went towards a new kitchen at the Legion Hall.
Frank Reggerro, Veteran Service Officer of Ulster County, said he visited Comrade Ben Bragg at his home in his last days. He said it was an honor and privilege to be with an American Hero of the Greatest Generation.
Ben Bragg Jr. thanked everyone on behalf of his family for honoring his father. He said his father would want the American Legion in Lloyd to survive and prosper for another hundred years.
With a catch in his voice Bragg said, “We have to keep this Post going. It is probably one of the best organizations in our town. Let’s not sit back, let’s hit the streets and get people involved and keep it going. That’s the most important thing to do to honor my father. Thank you.”
NYS Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson congratulated everyone, “for what you do day in and day out. Your main purpose of patriotism and instilling a sense civic duty and commitment among the youth is to be commended, too often things are taken for granted. I just think it’s tremendous what you’re doing.”
Commander Froland said the Legion heritage of a century, “is both an accomplishment of our Veterans and our community. It is a product of dedication and love and an act of patriotism and heartfelt desire that we built the foundation of this American Legion on.”
Froland announced that he is stepping down as Commander as he is accepting a job out of town. He urged people to help this Post survive into the future.
“Keep up the good fight, go against the odds and continue to push, it won’t always be an uphill battle,” he said.
Froland thanked the Legion for their support, saying the memories he made here will be with him forever.
“I never really dreamed I would be standing here shoulder to shoulder with all the men that I looked up to,” he said.
Froland recalled the mission of his service to the Legion.
“To all the Legionnaires, I have set up obstacles and challenges, I’ve changed the way we’ve done things here, I have gone against the grain and you guys have gone with me,” he said. “I’m looking forward to being able to come back here and see what else you have all done here; by leaps and bounds we have come a long way.”
Froland swore in Mike Schloemer as the new Commander of the Lloyd American Legion Post 193. He handed Schloemer a few personal items to add to the Legion’s collection: an ammunition magazine and a gas mask canister from his service in the Middle East.
A 21 gun salute followed by the playing of ‘Taps’ concluded the ceremony for the late Benjamin Bragg Sr.